Cody Cousino / Photo editor
After Saturday’s game at Nebraska, Ohio State alumni, fans and even a former player and Heisman Trophy winner all agree — it’s great to have the Conhuskers in the Big Ten conference.
The Buckeyes and Cornhuskers had met twice prior to Saturday, with OSU winning both encounters at Ohio Stadium in 1955 and 1956, respectively. This weekend’s game was the first meeting between the teams at the Cornhuskers’ Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
For those Buckeye faithful who followed the Scarlet and Gray into America’s heartland, many, including former OSU running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, said Nebraska belongs in the Big Ten.
“I think (Nebraska) brings a great deal of tradition,” George said. “It’s a rich tradition. With this being the inaugural game between the two schools as Big Ten opponents, I think it’s tremendous.”
Having spent the weekend in Lincoln, Larry Lokai, better known to some as the self-proclaimed “OSU Buckeyeman,” said Nebraska fans are the most hospitable he has ever encountered.
“There’s no question in my mind that Nebraska fans are like being here in Columbus,” Lokai said. “(Nebraksa fans) not only welcomed you, but they said ‘What can we do to make your stay more pleasant?’ Basically, they made you feel like you were a part of their team.
“I felt like I was talking to Ohio State fans, but in reality I was talking to Nebraska fans.”
Alan Orr, 77, of Asheville, N.C., graduated from OSU with a Bachelor’s degree in business in 1959 and shared the same sentiments as George and Lokai.
“For the first time in as many years that we’ve been traveling to Ohio State’s road games, Nebraska fans passed us and waved to us,” Orr said. “Most of the time, it’s a different hand gesture at other schools.”
Orr said that OSU fans would appreciate the pregame atmosphere demonstrated by Cornhuskers fans on Saturday.
“It looks the same,” he said. “I’m sure that their pregame is just like ours and it’s just as rabid.”
Hours before kickoff, Buckeye and Cornhusker fans were seen fraternizing as kickoff neared.
Former OSU student John Kinsey, 64, of Akron, Ohio, said Nebraska fans were very respectful.
“Since we arrived in Lincoln, we’ve been treated absolutely fantastic,” Kinsey said. “It’s just unbelievable, the welcome feeling they’ve given us. These people have been just fantastic.”
The welcome Nebraska fans gave OSU fans stood in stark contrast to the No. 14-ranked Cornhuskers’ treatment of the Buckeyes on the field on Saturday.
After jumping to an 27-6 lead in the third quarter, Nebraska stormed back to claim a 34-27 win. The comeback win, which was witnessed by 85,426 fans, was the largest in Cornhuskers’ history.
Despite the loss, Lokai maintained his positive outlook on the Cornhuskers’ addition to the conference, saying Nebraska’s football tradition is a “very good fit.”
“Nebraska football is a way of life,” Lokai said. “They’ve got a tremendous tradition there. You look around and you see all the All-Americans they’ve had, the national championships. I think it’s going to be a great fit.”
By Orr’s estimation, the Big Ten presidents and chancellors couldn’t have selected a better program to join the conference.
“This was a class act getting Nebraska in the Big Ten,” he said. “Nebraska is the team to bring in to help the Big Ten. Nebraska is No. 1.”